Category: Health

Lockdown lunch

Lockdown lunch

Look what our next-door neighbour gave us, a lovely lockdown lunch. Pizza, humous, gorgonzola, salad all combined with special chili sauce. We gobbled it down, sat in our garden, on a perfect Spring day with the mercury registering a sizzling 25C. How great is that? Thanks Frank, that’s so kind. Almost made me forget what we’re living through.

One thing about C19 is that London life has got significantly smaller and restricted. Social distancing, shielding, self-isolation; everyone now lives a little London life.

We are about to enter our third week of lockdown and so far, the Preen Team are in good health and good spirits. No respiratory complaints; no major fights just living with the new reality. Rusty the dog, who runs on the wolf-pack mentality loves having us all around. Not sure how she’ll cope when we go back to work.

The weather, as mentioned, is now beautiful, which is great, but many are flouting the government’s restrictions on freedom of movement. I went on a bike ride to Battersea Park and the place was mobbed and today I learn that Brockwell Park is closed as 3,000 people visited yesterday.

And talking of freedom of movement, a phrase straight out of the Brexit playbook, it got me thinking that we only seem to deal with a single massive news story these days. We moved effortlessly from Brexit, the great slavering news monster that consumed everything to coronavirus which also won’t allow the squeak of another story to get past it.

Panic buying

Panic buying was the big story two weeks ago, with supermarket shelves apparently stripped by a plague of locusts. This seems to have calmed down somewhat, but it made me realise the power of the supermarkets and the fact that most of the population shop nowhere else. We have a butcher up the road fully stocked with delectable meat products, Andy the fishman still comes all the way from Grimsby on Thursdays and I’ve been toddling up to New Covent Garden to see Alf, Steve and John to get our fruit and veg. No iron rations here.

One bizarre aspect of panic buying is the almost complete absence of flour, particularly bread flour. Imagine my delight on finding it for sale in our local SPA. Gold dust!

Journal of the plague year

I’ve been reading Daniel Defoe’s ‘Journal of the plague year’ and there are spooky resonances. Obviously, what we’re going through now is bad, but during the plagues of the 17th Century somewhere between a third and half of Europe’s population died. A mortality rate off the scale to what we’re facing now.

When it hit, the wealthy escaped to their second homes, sending the country servants back to the city to look after their London houses. Something you can imagine they weren’t too thrilled about. Then there’s isolation. If a member of a household contracted the plague a large red cross was painted on the front door and no one was allowed to leave. Two watchmen (One for the day and one for the night) were posted outside to make sure no one left. Well as you can imagine if you’re closeted with a plague victim then generally the rest of the house contracted it, and everyone died.

Many either bribed their watchman to look the other way or beat the shit out of him and made good their escape. Outside London in places like Walthamstow, then a separate town, they barred those fleeing from London to enter in an effort to halt the spread of the distemper as Defoe calls it. The result was that many died of starvation in the countryside. The rich also holed up in their boats, taking on board massive supplies and not allowing anyone off or on. I haven’t heard this to be true, but you have to imagine there are oligarchs and the like cruising around the Med, with full fridges, living their best lives.

Received wisdom has it that rats spread the plague, no so apparently, it was us. Scientists now believe it was a combination of airborne transmission (droplets generated when an infected person coughs or sneezes) and fleas and lice that lived on humans and their clothes. At the time they thought it was cats and dogs and thousands were killed.

Shutting down the office

Three weeks ago, we packed up our offices in Holborn and all went to work from home. I was one of the last to leave and was chatting with one of the young lads who work with me. He said: “Yeah me and my mates, we call it the Boomer Remover.’ Gulp, did he mean me?

Plogg Blog

Plogg Blog

I’ve started plogging. Actually, I’ve been at it for a while. I guess like any addiction, at first you think you’re in control and you can take it or leave it. Initially I’d go for a while without plogging then suddenly I’d be back at it again until I realised I was doing it every day. My name is Jim and I’m a plogger.

Plogging came from Sweden and is a conflation of the Swedish words ‘plocka uppa’ which means pick up and our word jogging. What you’re picking up is garbage and you’re doing it while exercising.

Environmentalist Erik Ahlström started the craze in Stockholm when he noticed that even in squeaky clean Stockholm, garbage was lining his jogging route. As night follows day a Facebook page appeared and a hashtag (#plogga) was born. Plogging now has a world-wide presence in countries as far-flung as the US, Thailand, Ecuador, and Canada.

As exercise trends go it’s a bit odd as inevitably there’s lots of stopping and starting involved, not to mention a fair bit of bending. Think of it as environmental interval training. I often plogg when I walk the dog which you might call dogging, until you remember that’s a very different kind of outdoor activity.

Research carried out earlier this year by Keep Britain Tidy revealed that one in five visitors to London’s Royal Parks leave litter on the ground contributing to more than 3,000 tonnes of waste collected by park teams every year at a cost of more than £1.7m. So, if you fancy a go, don’t worry there’s plenty of junk to plocka uppa.

So far, my plogging has been rather solitary with just Bucket (the dog) for company, but that’s all set to change. Plogging is coming to our neck of the woods in South London. On Sunday 16th September a ploggathon is happening at Battersea Park. You can walk or run for between one and four miles picking up the trash as you go. Bring a bag, some gloves and enjoy a picnic afterwards, just don’t bring any single use plastic. Sign up here and I’ll see you on the day.

The Unwelcome Guest: Get outa here

Those of you who read this blog regularly will know that on occasion I talk about my prostate cancer treatment under the title The Unwelcome Guest. It’s been pointed out that this more serious stuff sits uncomfortably with the flippant flim-flam and fol-de-rol that I usually turn out here.

That being the case, The Unwelcome Guest has been packed into a removal van and dragged kicking and screaming to its own blog. If you want to keep up with the little bastard this is where you need to be as The Unwelcome Guest won’t be appearing on A Little London Life in the future.

The Unwelcome Guest – Radio Days (1)

The Unwelcome Guest – Radio Days (1)

Probably like you, I’ve been sizzling in sun rays this summer, but very soon, as part of my prostate cancer treatment, I’ll be bathing in radio waves. I’ve known for some time that radiotherapy, the pointy end of my treatment, would start in September. It was established early on, that my prostate was not ripe for removal, so I’ve been on hormone therapy to shrink the Unwelcome Guest and that treatment, despite some irritating side-effects, seems to be working well. Now it’s nearly time to enjoy seven weeks as a guest on Radio Therapy.

You, dear reader, have almost certainly never had radiotherapy and I hope you never do, but this is the kind of cancer stuff that rarely gets talked about except among family and friends. So, I thought some of you might be interested to know what goes on. If you’d rather hack your arm off with a blunt penknife, I totally get it. Go find some more pleasant, diverting activity: take the dog for a walk, play guitar, read a book – I would probably do the same.

Anyone still here? OK well, it all starts, as does just about everything these days, with a PowerPoint presentation. To which you might say, Christ haven’t these poor bastards suffered enough? At 10am on a bright, clear, sunny day, the cancer contingent all trooped into a room in the urology department at Guy’s Hospital to find out our fate. Most were surprisingly chipper, though some looked as though life had taken a couple of chunks out of them. We all had a question on our lips: Radiotherapy, what’s that like then?

Jenna, the bright and breezy Urology Advanced Practitioner, had the answers. I’m to have radiotherapy five days a week for seven weeks at the same time and place every day. I get weekends off for good behaviour. The treatment doesn’t hurt and I’m not walking round like some kind of mobile Chernobyl, I’m safe to handle, but there are side effects. More about those in a moment.

I’ve never been a tattoo kind of guy. In my youth it was squaddies, crims and sailors who got inked, not nice middle-class boys like me. All that’s set to change. I’m now getting three tattoos, one on each hip and one just below my navel. These small dots will be used to line me up on the Intensity Modulated Radiotherapy do-dat in the same, correct position each time. Fairly soon, I have a terrible feeling I’m going to start talking about my ‘cancer journey’. If I do, a sharp blow to the head should fix it.

Us prostate people will also be drinking gallons of water over the coming weeks to enlarge our collective bladders (that might be an image you’re going to struggle to forget). This pushes the healthy organs out of the radio beam’s intrusive gaze and makes sure it’s just the prostate that receives both barrels. In fairness that’s not exactly the words Jenna used.

But hey, it’s not all just fun stuff. While the treatment may be pain free it does come with some baggage. It seems that about a month into the treatment I may start to feel dog tired and will have to take to my basket. I may be hopping to the loo twice a night and also my bowels…. whoa, whoa, whoa, actually you know what? You’ve suffered enough, if you want to know more Google it.

After the seven weeks the cancer should be nailed, but cancer is nothing if not a slippery bastard, so I’m then monitored every few months to see if the Guest has checked out or has decided to dash back because it had forgotten something.

Towards the end of the talk a little wizened man at the front who hadn’t said much suddenly piped up: “Can we drink alcohol during the treatment?” It was a sort of cartoon moment, there was total silence and total concentration as the room collectively held its breath. Well Jenna, well, can we?

I’ll keep you posted.